Manchester United fans celebrated the arrival of Juan Mata from Chelsea like it was a massive coup. They had managed to sign what they felt was a world class player and for only £37.5 million to boot.
Now it seems that Jose Mourinho once again worked his voodoo transfer window magic extorting that kind of money for the Spaniard, with Louis van Gaal using him in much the same way as the Chelsea boss – and clearly not seeing Mata as part of his first team line up when his squad is at full fitness.
Mata has his fans – and ardent ones at that – who love him and who will point to the fact that not only is he one of the nicest guys in football but he has some rather impressive stats that at one point this season were actually more impressive than those Eden Hazard could boast.
Then you dig a little bit deeper. Mata’s record against the top teams is actually fairly poor – it is the dregs of the league he excels against with his off the ball play still laxidasical and one of the main reasons Mourinho auctioned him off to the highest bidder.
There is something wrong with a player who fails to impress Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Vicente Del Bosque – and while Mata is a very good player, the question still lingers over the ‘world class’ label and you have to say on past evidence, he simply does not fit the bill.
One player who does however is Atletico Madrid starlet Saul Niguez who came through the ranks at the Madrid based side and may only be 20 years of age but is outstanding.
He is being introduced to first team life at the club slowly and protected by manager Diego Simeone, but there is only so far you can protect a player who scores a screamer of a goal during the Madrid derby and who is going a long way to making up for the absence of the injured Koke.
Saul is excellent on the ball and can pick out a pass as sharp as the pinpoint of a needle – and has a bit more grit than Juan Mata – he can break up play and start attacks and will stick a foot in when needed, but possesses all the positive attributes held by Mata and then some.
United have already scouted the Spaniard on more than one occasion and followed his loan spell with Rayo Vallecano closely and you have to imagine that an attempt to prise him away from his current club is not too far away.
Manchester United fans. Would you like to see Saul arrive at the club or are you still hoping Mata can impress Louis van Gaal? Let us know your thoughts below, become a guest blogger or tweet us @LaFootyettes.